Coolers are the most vital piece of equipment we use and we generally don’t pay much attention to them until they stop working.
Scheduling regular maintenance and making plans for a cooler breakdown can mean the difference between a minor problem and total disaster. Here are some basic recommendations for cooler temperatures and maintenance:
Temperature – 2-5°C is recommended. If your cooler has an unreliable history then 5—8°C may be safer.
Tropical flowers and orchids prefer 13°C or higher and will be damaged if stored at Lower temperatures.
Measuring Temperature – Always measure in water. Air temperature tends to fluctuate more often. The water should be measured first-thing in the morning as the cooler has been closed all night. We strongly suggest measuring daily and keeping a temperature log of the readings.
Calibrate your thermometer occasionally by placing it in a glass of ice water. It should read 0°C in ice water. If it doesn’t, note the difference and add or subtract that amount from any readings you take. Mark this difference on the thermometer so everyone using it is aware of the difference.
Thermostats – There are two types of thermostats: mechanical and digital.
Mechanical thermostats that feature a dial are more commonly found on coolers. These thermostats can be difficult to adjust in small increments. Adjust the temperature slowly and over many days. Make sure your thermostat is calibrated. You can do this by comparing your overnight water temperatures to what your cooler is set at. You could have a cooler set at 8°C , but running at 3°C. If you are happy with your cooler and do not have any performance problems do not touch your thermostat. If the performance changes suddenly call a service person.
Service Maintenance — Annual service checks and semi-annual cleaning of fans is the minimum recommendation. Your service person may recommend more frequent cleanings in certain cases. Try to work with the same company and if possible same technician as they will get to know your cooler and environment.
Protecting Your Flowers – If you have a monitored alarm system, install a temperature sensor in your cooler. The sensor will trigger when the temperature reaches a high and low temperature setting. We suggest freezing, and about 15°C. This allows room for general daily fluctuations due to doors opening and closing and equipment defrosting. When the sensor is triggered the alarm company will contact you. Check the calibration of the sensor the alarm company installs versus your water temperatures. Our experience is these are rarely calibrated correctly; do not be surprised if it is more than 5°C out of calibration.
Communication – Make sure all staff knows who to call and what to do if they have a problem. Make a chart near any thermostat that indicates the calibration so service and staff members do not make any damaging changes.
What should you do if the alarm company calls with a problem?
If your cooler is freezing, open all the doors of the cooler to raise the temperature. If this doesn’t work, remove the flowers until your service person arrives.
If it’s too warm, leave flowers in the cooler or remove them to air temperature depending on your needs. If you have a power failure, leave the flowers in the cooler until it reaches room temperature and then open the doors. The cooler will hold the temperature much longer if you keep the door shut. Keep in mind that the water will stay cool even longer, so any stems in water will be cooler than the actual air temperature.